Marching on #March #April #Aries #Shakespeare #astrology #proverb #Leo #clocks #light #Easter

‘In like a lion, out like a lamb!’ is the sweet little proverb often associated with March.

We began the month with biting cold winds, hazardous black ice and blankets of snow; the fierce roar of winter raged on… and Spring was kept deep below the soil.

The origin of the proverb is to do with astrology.

Leo the lion is the rising sign, the sign in ascendency but by 21st March (to 20th April) Aries, the ram, arrives (lamb sounds better than ram).

March is, can be and may have been a difficult month for some. The month has several associations with erraticism:

‘March winds’

‘Mad as a March hare’

and Misfortune ‘beware the Ides of March’ from Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar.’

This was spoken by a soothsayer warning Caesar of his portentous downfall.

When Caesar’s frosty reign ended on the 15th, it was nearly Spring.

The 25th March marks the change of clocks, with an extra hour of evening light…longer, lighter days are here to enjoy, providing the weather is kind.

Easter sneaks in at the end of the month too and then on Easter Sunday we awaken to April.

My new novel: ‘A Worldly Tale Told Of Mothy Chambers’ is available, signed, via kate@katebarnwell.com

www.katebarnwell.com

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May-Day Merry-making #May #bankholiday #green #tradition #Spring #festivals #flowers #Hastings

This year May Day falls on the First of May, not since 2005 have the two come together so poetically. If you are a Morris-man or woman you will have been up since dawn, dancing and rejoicing, celebrating the release of Spring.
In Hastings Old Town, the capital of the East Sussex culture scene, we have gathered flowers, greens and specially-made wreaths to adorn our streets (Hawthorn blossom is called ‘May‘ because it will be picked at this time of year) and long, colourful ribbons to dress the houses, shops, pubs, cafes and churches.

 Bells, bangles, bikers, green men, green women, drummers, fiddlers, singers and sweepers, one and all prepare for the Jack in the Green parade, winding its green garlanded way around the old streets and on to Hastings Pier for more dancing and revelling.  

Everyone will be ‘a-maying‘ from sunrise to sunset. A Spring holiday of feasting (on local organic bread), drinking (on the local pub’s homemade beer) & cheering the most spectacular May Parade. 

Hooray! This is Hastings, no battles here. It’s alive with ‘ye olde world’ tradition and armfuls of green hugs. Come be merry-made…

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A Cup of of Camomile #quotes #Shakespeare #gardens #herbs #Spring #playwright #camomile

An English garden, or any of a temperate climate, through the seasons, holds a spell. It feeds the soul and mind in beauty, peace and rest and the body in herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables. Please note I’m mostly concerned with Spring and Summer.

Many herbs and plants have made their way into Shakespeare’s plays…their use in medicines (Romeo&Juliet), in metaphors (Hamlet, Henry IV) & in magic (A Midsummer Night’s Dream).

Shakespeare loved to garden. He would have been familiar with, and fully aware of the significance and importance of herbs. Their values, qualities and differences would have played on his imagination and are naturally and subtly woven (weaved) into his work with great effect.

“… though the camomile, the more it is trodden on the faster it grows, yet youth, the more it is wasted, the sooner it wears.” Henry IV

In herb gardens lie stories, tales and morals, and healing properties: prevention and cure.

Herbs and spices for sprinkling, wit and wisdom for thinking.


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Firstly… The 1st of March 2017 #daffodils, #leeks, #StDavid, #Lent, #AshWednesday, #Wales, #history #tradition

Today, the 1st March 2017 marks many points of calendar interest.

Firstly, March 1st is St David’s day, the patron saint of Wales. He is remembered by the wearing of a daffodil. However for many centuries the leek was regarded as the national emblem. But Why? 

Well glad you asked. St David is supposed to have won a great battle and ordered his soldiers to wear leeks as distinguishing marks.

The daffodil, or Lent lily, is probably related to the lily of France, for Welsh soldiers are believed to have brought it home after fighting the French battles of Henry V.

Also Welsh for leek = cennin and for daffodil = cennin Pedr … extremely close in spelling and sound.
Secondly March 1st of 2017 is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Some people may still follow the custom of ‘giving up certain foods’ during the Lent period.

Lent comes from the Saxon word ‘lencten‘ because the days of Spring are now ‘lengthening‘. The days are getting longer, we have more natural light!

The ‘Ash‘ refers to the ash from the palms of the previous year’s Palm Sunday. At church Lent starts with the marking of a cross with a finger dipped in ashes on the forehead of those attending.

It is important to remind ourselves, whether we partake or not, of the historical and religious connections of these named-day diary events…“Just in case you come tête-à-tête with a daffy!”


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For ‘the few’ a few words #remembrance #poppy #silence #war #WWI #November #Armistice

The 11th November is Armistice Day, pausing for a two minutes silence at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month. 
12-13th of November is Remembrance Weekend with special attention on the Sunday for full commemorative services across the country and across the world whether they take place in church, mosque, temple, abbey, at a memorial or at home.  

The Poppy is the symbol of a lost life at war.

Everyone has love, loved; loss, lost. Reflection and memories require time and attention and Emotion can sometimes be indefinable (poetry can help express what we struggle to find in simple words).

Whatever the conflict, feelings are universal.

Emotion has no boundary or divide; it instinctively unite us, wherever in the world you stand.

http://www.katebarnwell.com 

In England – now! #England #Spring #blossom #seasons #poets #writers #weather

‘Seasons change winter to spring’ (so they sang in the film, Moulin Rouge).
Spring leading to summer warms the spirit and the pen, and becomes an inspirational and contemplative period for poets and writers, thinkers and dreamers, wanderers, followers and gatherers.

In May the world’s spin passes The Great Britain of temperate climate, through a gloriously green, flowery, abundant and prospectively fruitful season.  

Whether the weather brings sunny rapture or cloudy repulsion, there remains a gay, optimistic, signal of hope for this early part of the year.

From, Robert Browning, 1845

‘And after April, when May follows,

And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallow!

Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge

Leans to the field and scatters on the clover

Blossoms and dewdrops – at the bent spray’s edge- ‘


To, A. E. Housman, 1890, whose diaries cover two areas of interest, “the variety of the seasons – mainly Spring and Autumn – the weather, and the dates at which flowers come into bloom.”

“Loveliest of trees, the cherry now

Is hung with bloom along the bough…

About the woodlands I will go 

To see the cherry hung with snow.”

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White Apple blossoms framed by the dotted blue of forget-me-nots, in England – now!


London plays host to golden daffodils #London #parks #poetry #flowers #daffodils

Here is a delightful photo of bright and breezy daffodil heads bringing colour to the Royal Parks of London.
In the UK one can witness daffodils as early as December (East Sussex) and as late as late May (Perthshire, Scotland).

To celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee in 2002 more golden daffodils were planted in Green Park and here they are in their floral glory.  

William Wordsworth wrote in 1804 a classic poet’s dedication to this supremely beautiful spring flower, with its open trumpet, framed frilly petals and long firm stem.  Ahh silence is golden.

‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’ was inspired by the daffodils on The Lakes in Grasmere which William’s sister Dorothy had described in her journal of April 1802. It must also be recognised that many of the lines were hers. “I never saw daffodils so beautiful,” wrote Dorothy.

Here is a snippet:

‘… all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils’

‘… they stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.’

‘… a poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company.’

‘… they flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude ‘

(Wordsworth noted “the two best lines in it are by Dorothy”)

‘And then my heart with pleasure fills 

And dances with the daffodils.’

Every spring they rise again, a fitting metaphor for the symbol of Easter.

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Looking Rosy #poetry #roses #quotes #March #England #London #Shakespeare

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” (Act II, Scene II ‘Romeo & Juliet‘ by Shakespeare).
But I do particularly like ‘The Poet’s Wife’ (Auswhirl) grown by David Austin, English rose aficionado of Great Britain (see photo). This variety was introduced in 2014 and is the first yellow rose of his collection since the ‘Charles Darwin‘ of 2003.

‘Beautifully formed’ ‘Strong and unfading’ ‘Rich and Fruity’ 

Now is the time to start planting these beauties … there are some wonderful names to choose from. Take a stroll around Queen Mary’s Rose Garden in Regent’s Park, London and find hundreds of wonderfully named bedded buds (not yet in bloom, of course, but perfect in sunny June).

‘Why June is the time for a rose to bloom’

The rose is adored by poets from Robert Burns to Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  

Who is this poet and who is his wife? 

Ans. ‘Naturally rounded’ and a very fine inspiration for his work, perhaps.

Get searching and share your favourite named roses…
(See previous blog Captivated by Roses -November 2015).

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Sticking out…

It’s brave standing up for yourself; being the first to come forward; raising your head above the others. If you stick out or are different, the world can be an unkind and unforgiving place- but don’t hide away or try nothing at all. You are wonderful & original. No one can be sure who they are, everyone changes, grows, alters, blossoms, by degrees, all the time – that’s the way of it.  
Think of this flower in the bed, waiting for the others to catch up, to join in the beauty of shaping, flowering & being their full selves.  Dig out the weeds from your patch, cast them aside & surround your true self with those that encourage you in being full, vibrant and special & support your uniqueness; then you really can stand tall…